Putin’s Warriors – Story House realizes four-part documentary series and documentation

In an extraordinary film project, ZDF looks behind the facade of the seemingly overpowering Russian army. A team worked for more than a year to gain access to Russian officers. They were once Putin’s loyal warriors until the Ukraine war robbed them of their illusions. Now they are ready to testify before international investigators and hope for asylum or witness protection. In the films they talk about it for the first time – unprecedented reports from inside a black box: the Russian army.

All four episodes of the documentary series “Putin’s Warriors” will be available from Wednesday, February 21, 2024, from 10 a.m. in the ZDFmediathek. On Tuesday, February 27, 2024, “Putin’s Warriors: Russian Defectors Unpack” will be broadcast on ZDF at 8:15 p.m.

Jens Afflerbach, producer Story House Productions, about the realization of the series:

“The series shines a light into the Russian army in an unprecedented way and tells the stories of formerly loyal and convinced officers who risk everything to no longer have to be part of a criminal war machine. When we started this project, no one knew where we would end up Filming, if it was possible at all, could only be arranged conspiratorially and took place in remote locations under strong security precautions. It was an enormous challenge for everyone involved, to whom I am extremely grateful.”

Detailed interview by Bavaria-Film with producer Jens Afflerbach (in german language)

Conclusion from Marcus Bensmann, reporter at Correctiv:

“We see that the army and prison system in Russia have brutalized themselves over decades. The systematic brutalization of the male population is a key reason for the human rights violations committed by the Russian army, whether in Chechnya, Syria or now Ukraine. The war crimes documented by the Russian army in Ukraine are therefore not an exception, but the consequence of systematic brutalization, especially since the army has united with the prison system.”

  • Authors: Florian Huber and Johannes Müller
  • Camera: Maciej Rolbiecki (1 to 4), Arsenij Gusev (2), Fabian Beyer (3)
  • Producer: Jens Afflerbach, Story House Productions
  • Editors: Ron Boese and Martina Schindelka
  • Management: Caroline Heron
  • Broadcast length: 4 x 30 minutes
Putin’s warriors – Russian defectors unpack